Publishing has been my opportunity to participate in a cause which best puts to use the skills I acquired throughout college.
In college, someone told me to think about the things I loved when I was younger, because those things would bring the most joy in my career. Books meant everything to me as a kid. Beacon was a great fit because of my political science degree and nonprofit internships in college. Also, I mostly read nonfiction.
When I first began exploring career possibilities in back high school, I decided pretty quickly that I wanted to work in publishing. For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a children’s author, but even back then, the practical side of me knew I would also need to find a day job I was equally passionate about to support myself. Considering my lifelong obsession with books, publishing was the obvious choice!
Like many people in the publishing industry, books have been a lifelong love of mine. At a certain point, it dawned on me that books aren’t just these magical things that poof into existence, but that there is a select group of lucky people who get to create them.
When I started to think about career options in my first year of college, I knew I wanted to do something in the world of books and I knew I wanted, within that, to work somewhere that recognized the inherent political power of publishing and that was committed to using that power in a way that was both disruptive and purposeful. I also knew—or thought I knew at the time—that I wanted to be in New York.
I never planned on a career in publishing. After working in public accounting, I was offered a position at The Thomson Corporation in their publishing division. I thought I would try that for a few years and move onto something else. Shortly afterwards, I moved to their educational publishing group and ended up there for the next thirty years.
I initially wanted to be a writer, and I also wanted to live in New York, where many of my best friends were already living. In my last semester of college, my thesis advisor mentioned publishing as a possible day job—an industry that, of course, is also mainly based in New York. After college, I did some internships and freelance work at various New York publishers, magazines, and agencies, and then did an MFA in fiction writing at Brooklyn College, where I studied with author and editor Nathaniel Rich.
I’ve been a Beacon staff member and a publicity team member for seven and a half years! In that time, I’ve witnessed the rise of podcasts as legit and meaningful coverage for authors; the gradual expansion of book sections at major publications like the Washington Post and The Atlantic; and the ongoing growth of the indie book scene here in Boston. And, of course, my work and my life have changed since the onset of the pandemic nearly a full three years ago.
In undergrad, when I started working on my creative writing minor, I spotted a course on book publishing in the English department’s catalog. I’d always been “interested” in publishing, and I suppose the books and films I consumed growing up that glamorized the industry fascinated me as someone on the outside looking in—same with my other educational pursuits in film, journalism, art history, creative writing, advertising . . . I owe a tremendous debt to that class, as it made learning about the industry more accessible to those who couldn’t afford an elite summer publishing course or graduate program.
Like most other people in the industry, I’m here because I love books! I love words and how they can be combined to reveal a new way of knowing the world. For a while, my dream was to become a writer, but over time, I grew less interested in telling my stories and more interested in helping others tell theirs. I found Beacon through the amazing We Need Diverse Books internship grant and was immediately drawn to its progressive catalog and justice-oriented mission.
I was always interested in being somewhere in the world of books. Before college, I wanted to be a full-time writer, and at some point, in those four years, I realized I needed more social interaction in my day than there would be in a typical freelance day. Publishing seemed like the most adjacent career that was less isolated, and it’s turned out to be the case!
There is a picture of me as a child frowning over my book at whoever is behind the camera interrupting my read, and I think it is the perfect depiction of my relationship with books. I’ve always loved books, and nothing else made sense to me. If I couldn’t share stories with people, what else could I do?
When I was a kid, my favorite store was Barnes & Noble. I’ve always been a reader, and quite frankly, I’ve only ever really felt qualified to work with books. I started out with the starry-eyed vision of publishing everyone has: editing. I learned in graduate school that being an editor probably wasn’t for me and, feeling a little hopeless toward the end of my graduate career, took a marketing and sales class. It changed the game for me.
The timing of this Q&A is a nice bookend, as I joined Beacon last June! I saw this specific job retweeted by either POC in Publishing or Latinx in Publishing. I’ve been in publishing/the world of books in some way ever since I graduated college back in the aughts. After moving around a bit, I really found a sweet spot in working on progressive books, and publicity and marketing really suit my preference of crafting the messaging and helping to put out projects into the world that the author has spent so much time working on.
My degree is actually in film, but I realized only afterward that it wasn’t what I wanted for myself, so I did what any sensible person would do—I street performed for a little while in Baltimore, playing bucket drums. Wanting something more stable, I luckily got hired on as a manager at a Books-A-Million. The rest is history, I guess. I just fell in love with books, the industry, and the people in it. My first taste of publishing was during an internship at MIT Press where I got to work in a few different departments. That affirmed publishing as the right place for me.
It took me a long while to figure out that there were entire careers behind every page of the books I was reading. It might sound odd, but it wasn’t until reading about Anastasia Steele working in a publishing house from “Fifty Shades of Gray” that I put it together (pretty sure that wasn’t the goal of the book, haha). After that, I spent more and more time looking not only at what I was reading, but also which publisher or imprint was producing it.
Like many people in publishing, I’ve just always loved reading and have always been interested in the entire book publishing process. I had my first internship in publishing when I studied abroad in college. That solidified my interest, and publishing became what I actively wanted to pursue. While that internship was in children’s editorial, I also worked as a publicity and editorial intern at PublicAffairs and was able to learn a lot more about the different sides of publishing, specifically in serious nonfiction. This led me to Beacon when I noticed an opening for an editorial assistant position last fall and applied.
I’ve always loved finding that perfect seed at the heart of a story, and thanks to my mom’s early guidance (thanks, Mom!), I’ve had my sights set on a career in publishing for a long time. I spent a few summers working as an intern at a literary agency where my main job was to dig through slush piles full of unsolicited manuscripts, trying to discover the Next Big Thing. It was a great way to practice spotting not just the obviously great stuff, but the stuff that could be great with a little more shaping. That’s where I really learned how to argue for a book’s potential.
Like many people who work at Beacon, I have always loved books and reading, and I studied English as my major in college. Though my mother worked as an editor for a number of years, I did not consider a job in publishing for myself until later in school. I was worried that a lack of publishing-specific internships might make it more difficult to get a job in this industry but figured it was worth a shot! I found the listing for my position at Beacon during one of many frantic late-night job searches as a second-semester senior.
With an undergraduate degree in design and six years of teaching in a centre for speech and drama, I needed something that would amalgamate my interest in design and literature. After some research, I realised the design and production department of the publishing industry is the place for me.